Boarding the plane at San Jose, bound for home in Honolulu. Fellow passengers and I stow our stuff in the overheads, figure out what to do with the superfluous, shrink-wrapped blankets and decide which seat belts go with which seat. Can’t help noticing the arrival of a young couple with a sleeping infant and all the baby’s paraphernalia. They’re young. We’re just about to ignore the stewardess’ reminders when the young father starts passing out zip-lock bags full of goodies to his adjacent passengers. What’s this? There is a granola bar, a small box of Eclipse gum, a lollypop, something soft in a sealed tube of plastic that turns out to be foam earplugs and a nicely folded note. We murmur our somewhat confused “thankyou”s then, reading the note, we finally get it.
“Hello, my name is Aiden. I am two months old and this is my first plane ride. Please excuse me if I cry because I am scared or my ears hurt. Please enjoy a few snacks on my behalf and have a nice flight!”
To complete the narrative—the baby didn’t make even the tiniest peep for the whole five and a half hours. I don’t know about the others but I was waiting for for Aiden to fuss so that would give me a chance to turn and smile and say, “That’s OK, Aiden boy. That’s OK.” As we were deplaning, we all really thanked the young family.
Who does something like that? Who thinks ahead like that? Who is so considerate of other people anymore? Where did they get the idea? The initiative! The effort! I wish I knew how to contact them because I want to call up and tell them they are awesome and get the numbers for both sets of grandparents so I can say they did an amazing job raising their unbelievably thoughtful children.
When I get a chance, I’m going to include this experience in a sermon. Actually, it IS a sermon and the text is the 2nd greatest commandment—“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Or maybe, the one about hitting the jackpot by practicing hospitality— how strangers might actually be “angels unaware.”
Remember how Gen. William Booth, the one who invented the Salvation Army, encouraged his troops? He didn’t have enough money to send a lengthy telegram to his army scattered far and wide. In fact, he could only afford to telegraph one word to hundreds of recipients, (they charged by the word in those days). After some thought and prayer, Booth telegraphed, “OTHERS.”
God help us, in this highly suspicious social environment, to give thought and prayer to others. Aiden does.